Dunhuang is a magical place, whose matter is made of camels, sands, spring blossos and water rushing from nowhere, dark skies punctuated with stars like beady eyes among the scarves, camel foot trees and a very soft and dry wind. No wonder that it was picked by the Buddhist communities as a dwelling and that it hosts the Mogao caves, one of the most luminous gems of Buddhist art. When you are there, you get what an oasis is: it takes to travel a desert to understand what a capricious miracle an oasis is, what a wonder to have water springing and instantaneously seeing trees and flowers sprouting from the ground. It is something that your brain cannot figure out, the colors and vividness of life in the middle of nowhere cannot be grasped until you see it with your own eyes. No one can expect those delicate flowers, those proud trees , those bursting buds to spring from a desert , you could never have guessed it would be like that, not even after seeing the fields obstinately sown in the middle of the Hexi corridor, that land stolen to development and barredness still did not resemble in the least this magical spring rising here. The dunes, the huge dunes that are on the edge of town blink and tell you that here you are hidden, you are safe, you can sleep and awake and stay. For some days only though, according to your plans it is only a rest on the way, although the plans sometimes change.
Dunhuang is the typical town where in spring everyday looks like at sunday, noises are muffled and people enjoy those empty moments where time floats and a game with friends can be set up. Yesterday night the light falling down, was bright and tinged with gold, like a Lisbon sunset; my hostel was on the limit of town where the dunes are and I walked there feeling the cold coming down on my shoulder and all of a sudden a warm wind from far away surprised me, as if the dunes could breath.
There are going to be a lot of stars and camels and dunes in this story, but i really cannot tell because the magic tricks of destiny can only be guessed and signs can only be read by those that have already dreamt the story. So I would rather tell the story of the beauty of the Dunhuang Caves (and Yulin) and the jokes of the Gobi Desert . I might squeeze in also a word about the famed donkey noodles you can find in there, even though I almost feel guilty for the donkey (but they were really good).
This day , the 21st April 2012, began with a hot ride to the caves, a visit to the caves and an afternoon in town, meeting fortunetellers, kids playing and feeling the time passing by, waiting and non waiting for somebody that was due to come that day, until the night fell with a long dusk and stars came out. Let yourself in to the magic.